The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) called on Sri Lanka’s protestors in the South to go beyond ‘skin deep’ gestures and incorporate the addressing of “Tamils’ historic grievances” in a statement that expressed solidarity this week.
The detailed statement began by stating “your government leaders who have slaughtered us over the years have today turned their weapons towards you”.
“We perfectly understand the pain and loss of death and violence,” it continued. “Despite the death of hundreds and thousands of our own people, our hearts have not frozen but are still warm and tender with feelings of empathy. The government atrocities and losses incurred at Rambukkana even today bring tears to our eyes and our hearts are weeping.”
At the same time as expressing solidarity, the TCSF added “however, in the light of our lived experiences for the last eight decades, Tamils have certain reservations about joining hands together with the mass protestors of the South, in your protests and agitations”.
“In the modern history of Sri Lanka, all the governments that governed Sri Lanka have been corrupted and implemented wrong economic policies to the detriment of the country as a whole,” it said. “The Sinhala people chose to ignore all the corruption and wrong economic policies because the rulers portrayed themselves as the protectors and guardians who uphold the aspirations of the Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy. The current crisis is the ultimate outcome of this historical process.”
See more extracts below.
It cannot be forgotten that today the same South that looks shocked at the corruption of the Rajapakshe family is the one and the same that helped the Rajapakshe family to gain unprecedented victory in the Presidential election in 2019 and the Parliamentary election of 2020.
We have not seen any acknowledgment even today amongst the youth and common protestors in the South that the current crisis is a by-product of the mishandled racial situation, brought about by Sinhala Buddhist aspiration for dominance. We are yet to hear from the young protestors at Galle Face Green today expressing any progressive thoughts along these lines.
There are slogans such as ‘the politicians have divided us along racial lines’, ‘we are all Sri Lankans’, ‘the National anthem can be sung in Tamil’. For us, these are skin deep. We have not come across any voices of concern that address the rightful fear and apprehensions of the Tamils, other nations, and communities and proposals to overcome these deep-rooted structural issues. Tamils’ issues are much graver, much more painful, and much more fearsome than singing the National anthem in Tamil. Tamils’ survival as a nation in this country is threatened today, and those calling us from the South to join the protest seem not to have understood or felt this fear dwelling within us.
The failure of both common protestors and leaders of the protests to read the signs early on and address Tamils’ historic grievances is being felt by us at this crucial juncture. We have not noticed any signals from any of the protestors regarding this.
Against this backdrop, we, the Tamils, view the protests happening in the South with solidarity and yet at the same time have no other choice than to be cautious and prudent in our decision to join hands with the protestors, considering our long struggle for a secured existence in our homeland. Today, we wish to extend our solidarity with those of you in the South, the common people, and the youth. We also state firmly that we are also affected by the same economic reasons for which you stepped into the road to protest. Our reservations in joining your protests and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you are because of the exhausting, and the lingering question we still have in our minds – at least do you have an answer for the quests, that we the Tamils have for protecting/preserving our status as a distinct nation?
See the full text of the statement here.